Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Remembering Mary Ellen

Mary Ellen Louise Franzen Dahl Siegfried was born October 12, 1945 in Grand Junction, CO and joined her maker July 18, 2012 at Cornerstone Hospice Care, The Villages, Fl.  We are all gathered together to pay our final respects to Mary Ellen, our sister, mother, grandmother, cousin.  Each of us here this afternoon is filled with memories, observations, thoughts.  A memorial service such as this, for someone who lived and died younger than was expected, allows us a time to process and recall that which is sometimes not available to us when we are in the midst of immediate loss and grief.  We gather this afternoon to remember and celebrate.

As we each look back at the sixty-six years Mary Ellen shared on this earth, our memories will differ.  Recent brain research helps with some explanation.  To make sense, all of us remember by fitting memories into our own stories.  Memories are malleable, not precise.  We manipulate memories to make sense out of our own stories.  Memories are self-serving human constructions.  We all have selective memories.

Mary Ellen and I would sometimes rehash an event of our childhood or past and come up with completely different versions.  I could never understand why she didn't see or recount the story the same way as I did.  If our memories are twisted or molded to fit our own personalities, then this can explain why our sharing, even with all of you in the past few days, has brought up so many different versions of a story.

I looked up to my sister, Mary Ellen.  I saw her as an intelligent, bright person.  I admired her creative talents.  She could envision a room design, an art project or a garment, before the materials were even purchased.  She enlightened a creative spirit in me and I will always thank her for that.  As many of you know, Mary Ellen excelled in the baton twirling venue and was an avid lover of dogs.  I am sure Tiffany, Chloe and Sugarplum wonder where their master is.

I can only imagine how our parents must have felt, holding their tiny little girl.  How proud our father was to be part of her baptism at their first congregation in Grand Junction, CO.  To offer their first born to become "a child of God".  God accepted Mary Ellen as a member into his fold, and as all parents, God has loved her as His child through all her joys, her challenges, and now, through death, He continues this love as He accepts her into his kingdom.  I believe that God remembers us always and we are placed into God's story of grace, mercy and love.

Our sister is now free.  She no longer will grieve for the loss of her husband, Sel or of her brief union with Charles.  Her failing body will no longer hinder her spirit nor the fading of her memories be apparent.  I see her rejoicing in the reuniting with her children's father and sharing stories with our parents of her children and grandchildren.

We celebrate and give thanks this day.  We rejoice in the knowledge that God remembers us always out of His deep love and mercy.